Democracy is here and healthy
American writer Robert Heinlein said that democracy cannot work for the simple reason that democracy is a theory based on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are equal. My automatic hunch that Bob (I did not know him at all, but in democracy such irritable liberties are invaluable eyewash) was a mathematician could be totally criminal. Despite being from a nation that prides on its practice of democracy, he nevertheless has a point that we all know is a hurdle towards utopia, and yet we do not have the courage to admit for fear of being castigated as an enemy of the people. And so democracy in the eyes of many has remained no more than yet another sugar-coated conspiracy of the rich to exploit the mass. My optimism however is based on the positive outcomes of a duel of over two decades.
The ongoing Upazilla elections are passing almost in silence in the national media, whereas this could have been labelled as a singular success of the AL government, albeit with the cooperation of all other participating neutral-pretending political parties. That too is so much eyewash. Votes are being cast in an ambience of festivity laced with people's power, ballots are being counted, wrong-doers are being punished, results are being announced, AND accepted by all the parties and the people. Of course, some stupid winners (of all political shades) are heard of attacking and ransacking houses of the losing candidates. The law must be very harsh on the plunderers. One can recall in gratitude the instruction of Sheikh Hasina to her party people not to bring out any victory procession after their resounding victory in the last national elections. That too was a fruit of our acquiring democracy.
Under no previous government we have seen so many student leaders and workers of the ruling party being arrested for various offences. Does that mean that the present BCL adherents are more prone to crime? Nay! The reason for such welcome signs is that the police have been empowered to spring into action against the student wing of the party in power. Democracy is only taking shape and we must ensure its continuity.
Then we came across another media report that an Awami League councillor was returning money to the people from whom he took illegally to ensure that the poor peasants receive money granted by the government. Whether he did it out of awakened conscience or under instruction from high ups or for fear of reprisal of the locals is secondary to the fact the he despite being from the party in power had to give back the money to their rightful owners. I tell you, people have risen and they shall rise further, if only democracy is allowed unabated cultivation.
The Anti Corruption Commission, which appears to be clawless against the fraudulent and dishonest politicians in the opposition, last week moved separate cases against a sitting Member of the Parliament belonging to the Awami League and his wife, some of who behave akin to ministers. While no one is saying here that the AL MPs or their families ought to be spared, the fact is that in the past government party legislators and their near and dear ones have most often enjoyed undue immunity while democracy bit the dust. The charge is that the MP from Bogra-1 Abdul Mannan and his wife amassed Tk. 72 lakh, which is disproportionate to their known sources of income. Many of the crooked people out there may consider the amount as noshshi and they may even be laughing their heads off at first reaction, but the bold ACC action will send the right message across the table of corruption that stretches many columns wide and many rows deep. Here are signs of democracy being fortified and commissions gaining courage, as they sense that people will back them now if congruous political environment exists, and ultimately, if not.
The continuing boycott of the Jatiya Sangsad sessions by the Opposition on the pretext that it is not allowed to speak and other issues is a damaging daub on democracy, but Live telecast of the parliamentary proceedings should give them confidence that the world will be watching if they are maltreated, and the people (knowledgeable as they are today) would definitely come to side with them. The fact that an alliance with about 35 MPs in a Parliament of 345 can demand (in public meetings and on television) the resignation of the government enjoying nearly ninety percent of majority, and midterm elections, is also ample proof that democracy is here and healthy. After successive national elections, people have come to accept such positive approach from all sides, but not the call for civil disturbances that have dire socio-economic effects. One must accept that hartal is observed even if partially not necessarily because people support a cause, but because they are afraid of their safety.
Ponder for a while what US politician Al Smith said: 'All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy'.